CORRECTION Braves Keuchel Baseball

Mississippi Braves pitcher Dallas Keuchel pitches during the fourth inning against the Double-A Mobile BayBears in Pearl, Miss., Saturday, June 15, 2019. Keuchel, who was recently signed by the Atlanta Braves and is a 2015 AL Cy Young award winner, has a one-year contract for the remainder of the 2019 season. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The Atlanta Braves used their 10-game homestand to full advantage.

After going 8-2, the Braves (44-31) took a four-game lead in the NL East as of Thursday night's games, and they will try to continue the momentum when they open a 10-game road trip with a three-game series Friday against the Washington Nationals.

Josh Donaldson helped lead an offense that pummeled the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies and New Tork Mets at SunTrust Park.

Over the last seven games, the veteran third baseman has batted 13-for-29 (.448) with five home runs and 10 RBIs. However, he is far from the only one on a tear. Over that same timeframe, Brian McCann, Tyler Flowers, Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Freddie Freeman have all hit better than .367. Albies and Freeman joined Donaldson with driving in double-digit runs, with 10 and 11, respectively.

Second baseman Howie Kendrick leads the Nationals, hitting .333 with 12 home runs and 43 RBIs for the season. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is hitting .309 with 16 homers and 50 RBIs.

This will be the second meeting of the teams this season. Washington won both games of a two-game series at SunTrust at the end of May.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Dallas Keuchel will make his season debut in Fiday's series opener.

After signing a one-year, $13 million contract, the 31-year-old left-hander had two starts in the minors to prepare. He pitched seven scoreless innings for Class A Rome, then followed that with a three-run, 11-hit effort over seven innings with Double-A Mississippi.

Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner with the Houston Astros, will face Stephen Strasburg (7-4, 3.75 ERA). Strasburg's last start came in a 10-3 loss to Arizona, in which he pitched five innings and allowed six runs on nine hits.

Mike Foltynewicz (2-5, 5.33) will try for his second straight strong outing Saturday, when he is expected to face former Braves teammate Anibal Sanchez (3-6, 3.84). Mike Soroka (8-1, 2.12) is set to face Patrick Corbin (6-5, 3.90) on Sunday. 

ON THE AIR

Friday and Sunday's games will be broadcast by Fox Sports South, while Saturday's game will be on Fox. Friday's and Saturday's broadcasts will begin at 7 p.m., with Sunday at 1:30 p.m. All three games will be broadcast on radio by 680 AM The Fan and Rock 100.5 FM. 

John Bednarowski is the sports editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. He can be reached at sportseditor@mdjonline.com or on Twitter @jbednarowski

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